Hiding Behind a Cheap Shot

I wrote a blog about relics being revitalized to provide new benefits to a new generation without damaging or destroying the essence of the relic itself. And of course I sometimes believe relics should be preserved as relics; museums inspire us with past triumphs in creative development.

Anyway, one commenter quite bluntly wrote in that the source martial art from which To-Shin Do evolved is completely sufficient in and of itself and required no “updating” at all to be effective. He went on to surmise that the reason I had changed my teaching was that my “ego and bank account” needed something more.

Brushing that cheap shot aside, out of curiosity my staff and I looked at my critic’s web site and links to videos of him in action. There he was, performing flat-footed robotic slow motion single action responses to a listless attacker who lurched in with a punch that resembled a bad bowler stomping forward with a right step and then a limp straight-elbowed right arm upward swing. The “punch” came to a stop almost a foot away from the defender when it ran out of what little steam it had. Made me shudder just to watch it.

Oh-ho. OK. Now I know why he does not at all approve of my insistence that we train against scary threats. He can’t handle those with what he is teaching. He then dodges the problem by requiring his students to attack him in a quirky stylized manner that fits what he wants to use for defense.

One difference between what I taught in the old days when I was an apprentice explorer and now 30 years later is that we usually avoid that lurching lunge that would never happen that way in a real fight. We insist our To-Shin attack simulations reflect what a real assailant would do to start a fight.

Many (most?) of the techniques that work so well against the extended straight-line-from-knuckles-to-neck arm need major modification to be effective in a real fight where the aggressor keeps angularity in his arm and shoulder joints. That’s why I had to create To-Shin Do.

Does that mean we do not teach defenses against leading-leg leading-hand attacks? No, not at all; we cover those. Boxers jab off the same-hand-and-leg-forward position, wrestlers lunge in with a same-side step and grasp, and MMA cage fighters fly in with a same-leg-and-fist lunge punch. We do train to protect against such fighting sports assaults that could end up on the street.

BUT when we do use a lunge punch, it really is a punch.

I suggest to my critic that to avoid embarrassment the day a real challenger struts into his dojo for a trial, my critic should think hard and carefully every time he is tempted to blow off and ridicule that which he does not want to understand. Save the cheap shots for later once you have earned your reputation.

That’s exactly what I learned to do in my decades of martial arts training. And that’s how I came to earn in the public arena the right to demand we revitalize the relic.

10 comments to “Hiding Behind a Cheap Shot”

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  1. Oh my…
    Well, me being an old-timer (of sorts anyhow) – I know I’m training within To-Shin Do for many of those same reasons.

    It’s lovely being martially liberated !

  2. Obviously the guy making the negative comment is searching for something new or else he would not be looking at your site. there is such a jealousy in the martial arts that should not be there as we are all “brothers at arms” so to speak. So, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t change and adaptation the essence of ninjutsu? Wouldn’t the techniques of the early days (ninjutsu’s inception) look different in 1500’s feudal Japan?
    Sorry to say that people like him simply know that their stuff is outdated and they need refreshing themselves.
    Thank you Anshu Hayes for keeping the tradition of change and viability alive.

  3. Very insightful, there is no place in Budo for disrespect, both groups can learn a great deal from each other.

  4. I am currently training in Bujinkan, there are no To-Shin Do schools available to me. I have trained in the black belt course available from this site. Though I have not pursued belt ranking, I can see this has invaluable content for surviving a modern day confrontation. I can see value in both systems & feel that an individual that fails to see this, really shouldn’t be a part of either.

  5. matt cannon says: -#1

    wow, all true. keep it up.

  6. Your lesson is so true. We should not be to proud, but temper it with the wisdom of being open to the lessons others present to us. Especially those who have walked the path of experience and grown from it.

    Once more An-Shu you present a wonderfully relevant lesson we should apply.

    May these lessons liberate us on our path while helping also liberate others as well.

    Stationed overseas

  7. steve siverling says: -#1


    I hope I my comment wasn’t taken as a cheap shot. It wasn’t ment as such. If so I apologize.



  8. Dear An-Shu,

    I just wanted to add my 2 cents. I think you and To-Shin-Do are doing a great job navigating a very tricky area: maintaining the traditions of the past, while adapting them to modern needs.

    I’ve been blessed to study martial arts under some great teachers, yourself included (although we haven’t met in person), and one common theme is their (your) ability to adapt.

    In my limited martial arts experience it seems that teachers, particularly in the US take one of two very extreme view. One, they own and operate “McDojo,” “Black Belt Mills,” whatever you want to call them, where volume and the income it generates is the only goal; thus the quality of the art suffers. Two, teachers convey the traditional arts, but are so opposed to changing anything, out of fear of somehow hurting or betraying the art they teach that they end up teaching something with no application.

    Now if I had to choose between one of the two, my choice would be the latter, but I wouldn’t be a martial artist seeking to cultivate the warrior ethos, because, in my own opinion, to be a warrior requires some grounding to the world around you, otherwise, you are not a warrior as much as you are an artist or philosopher in total abstractness. I think An-Shu’s statement in another post was dead-on there but equally-so here, LEARNING everything Togakure-Soke taught in the 1500’s and PRACTICING your art(s) today like he did then are two seperate things. It is vitally important to learn what the masters before us learned and taught, if we don’t, our art loses any connection it has with the past, with higher-purposes, and with things that enable us, as practitioners and students, to be part of something larger than ourselves. But failing to adapt to the times is a recipe for the demise of the art. History is full of examples. I wonder, and we will likely never know, how many styles of, say kenjutsu existed in 1550 Japan, the height of the Warring-States Period versus how many there are today…quite a difference, those that remain from antiquity into today do so because their masters adapted to changing times.

    What I like about To-Shin-Do, is that is continues this tradition, An-Shu Hayes and Hatsumi Soke are people who recognize that if we don’t adjust to the times, we become righid and inflexible and soon die off; at the same time, they maintain the roots to the past which, if there weren’t any, would cause us to fly away and drift in whatever the direction of the wind was for the day.

    Just my thoughts. I don’t know who wrote that criticism, but maybe he should spend that time and energy perfecting technique rather than attacking a master who is doing what he is being called to do, and doing it well.

  9. Jon Rogers expressed my thoughts on the subject so eloquently there is little I can add. (I salute you sir.)

    That said, despite my limited experience in the art there are a couple of things that come to mind.

    While it is true that any school needs to have a healthy respect for the techniques of the past, because if you don’t know where you’ve been, you can’t know where you’re going, it cannot be limited to the past else it become an anachronism, teaching some form of cultural art that lacks relevance in the modern world.

    How blessed are we to have such marvelous souls as An-Shu Hayes and Hatsumi-Soke to give us access to such a living art, and how sad that some pervert it until it is no longer living, and yet others are truly charlatans.

    On this day of Thanksgiving (yep, I’m a Canucklehead) I am eternally grateful for the love and guidance I receive from all my buyu, even if they don’t realize they’re giving it.


    Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo!

  10. I’ve benefited from your teachings. I still have my original copies of the NINJA volumes from the 80’s. If these books were never made available to the public then I would not know the KI that I use today in my daily life. I look forward to learning more about NINJA – KUJI and am glad that there’s a good source of information available. Thank you for providing this to us, I’ve ordered the KUJI – IN and KUJI – KIRI DVD’s, ‘The First Steps to the Path of Light’ and the ‘GYO-JA daily practice workbook’ and I look forward to learning anything else you can reveal about this ancient art! Keep up the Quest; I’ll be looking for publications for years to come.

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